Closing Guantánamo

February 27, 2009 • Volume 19, Issue 8
Can Obama close the detention camp within one year?
By Kenneth Jost


CQ Researcher cover photo of a shackled detainee (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)
A shackled detainee is taken to an interrogation session at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, soon after President George W. Bush ordered the controversial facility opened in January 2002 to house suspected enemy combatants captured in the Afghanistan war and elsewhere. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

President Obama on his second full day in office ordered the closing of the Guantánamo detention camp within a year. The facility at the U.S. Naval Station in Cuba has been controversial ever since President George W. Bush decided in late 2001 to use it to hold suspected enemy combatants captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Both Obama and Republican candidate John McCain promised during the presidential campaign to close the facility if elected. But that poses many difficult issues about the camp's remaining 241 prisoners. The government wants to send many to other countries — with few takers so far — but worries that some may resume hostile activities against the United States. Some may be brought to the U.S. for trial, but those prosecutions would raise a host of uncharted legal issues. Meanwhile, opposition already has surfaced to any plans for housing detainees in the United States. And human-rights advocates worry the Obama administration may continue to back some form of preventive detention for suspected terrorists.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Ethics in War
Sep. 16, 2022  The War in Ukraine
Jul. 13, 2012  Privatizing the Military
Aug. 06, 2010  Drone Warfare Updated
May 2010  Confronting Rape as a War Crime
Jan. 2010  Truth Commissions
Feb. 27, 2009  Closing Guantánamo Updated
Jul. 2008  Child Soldiers
Sep. 2007  Torture Debate
Aug. 25, 2006  Treatment of Detainees
Apr. 18, 2003  Torture
Dec. 13, 2002  Ethics of War
Sep. 13, 2002  New Defense Priorities
Jul. 07, 1995  War Crimes
Apr. 26, 1972  Status of War Prisoners
Oct. 07, 1970  Military Justice
Jul. 12, 1967  Treatment of War Prisoners
Dec. 03, 1952  War Prisoner Repatriation
Sep. 07, 1948  War Trials and Future Peace
Jul. 07, 1945  Enemy Property
Nov. 20, 1943  Courts-Martial and Military Law
Mar. 15, 1943  War Guilt Trials
Mar. 30, 1942  War Atrocities
Feb. 02, 1942  Prisoners of War
Aug. 11, 1938  Aerial Bombardment of Civilian Populations
Domestic Issues
Terrorism and Counterterrorism
War and Conflict